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Guide to the Cecily Brownstone Papers MSS.134

Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
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New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2596

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Matt Moore, 2003, Jenny Pachuki and Shelley Lightburn, 2006.

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 12, 2018
Description is in English. using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Finding aid updated to reflect integration of accessions 2009.134, 2013.134, including unprocessed calendars.  , August 2018

Biographical Note

Cecily Brownstone was born in Plum Coulee, Manitoba, Canada, in 1909, and grew up in Winnipeg, the fourth of five sisters. She attended the University of Manitoba and came to New York City to pursue her studies and to work. She lived in Greenwich Village, appropriately enough in a brownstone house, in a duplex apartment that included a spectacular test kitchen, and that housed her large cookbook collection.

Cecily Brownstone was The Associated Press Food Editor from 1947 to 1986 -- for thirty-nine years. During that time she was the most widely published of syndicated food writers. The five recipe columns and two food features she wrote for the A.P. each week appeared in papers all over the United States, in addition to a number of other countries.

Earlier in her career as a journalist, Brownstone was the Food Editor of Parent's Magazine, and the Child Care Editor of  Family Circle magazine. She also wrote a book for children,  All Kinds of Mothers, illustrated by her niece, the artist Miriam Brofsky Kley.

Brownstone was also a consultant to Carl Sontheimer, president of Cuisinart, a physicist, entrepreneur, and founder of the food processor industry in America. With Sontheimer, Brownstone edited the highly regarded magazine, Pleasures of Cooking, and wrote  Classic Cakes and Other Great Cuisinart Desserts (Hearst Books, 1994). She earlier wrote  Cecily Brownstone's Associated Press Cookbook (A.P., 1972).

Cecily Brownstone was a close friend and confident of James Beard and The Joy of Cooking authors, Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, and other noted cookbook and food writers. She and Beard telephoned each other almost daily, at 8 a.m., and their friendship is mentioned in two recent biographies of Beard. Brownstone's collection includes 93 letters and postcards from Irma Rombauer, and about 45 of Marion Becker's letters. During the last five years of Becker's life she phoned Brownstone for an hour every weekend; they were close friends, and Brownstone is mentioned often in Anne Mendelson's recent biography of Irma Rombauer and her daughter. Brownstone's collection includes signed, inscribed copies of almost every edition of The Joy of Cooking, sent to her first by Irma Rombauer, and later by Marion Becker.

The Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer called Cecily Brownstone "wonder child (and wonder woman)."

New York Times food columnist Molly O'Neil called Brownstone one of the "cornerstones of authentic cooking in New York."

On Brownstone's retirement, former New York Times Food Editor Jane Nickerson wrote: "Of syndicated food writers, she's been the most widely read." Nickerson added: Brownstone's recipes were always "unusual, appetizing, and accurate down to the last one-eighth of a teaspoon of salt." Brownstone's "success derived, in my view, from her sensitivity to readers' tastes and her insistence that recipes give high, appealing results."

Cecily Brownstone died on August 30, 2005 at the age of 96.